Church Check: Calvary Chapel Cary in Apex, North Carolina

Updated: Aug 1



Basic Church Information


Church Name: Calvary Chapel Cary Senior/Lead Pastor: Rodney Finch

Elders/Leadership Staff: See Staff & Pastors Here (also see Questionnaire for more info) Address: 1600 Center Street Apex, NC 27502

Phone: 919-367-9250

Email: See Church Contact Page Here

Online Services: https://subsplash.com/cccary

Website: https://cccary.org/

Social Media:

- Twitter: https://twitter.com/calvarycary

- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/calvarycary

- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cccary

= YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/CalvaryChapelCary


Church Specifics

Denomination: Calvary Chapel (see the church’s statement of faith here)

Preaching Style: Expository/verse-by-verse & Topical Mix

Worship Style: Contemporary Governance/Structure: Chuck Smith’s “Moses” Model/Pastor-Led

Membership Requirements: No

Tithe-Preaching/Compelled Giving: Yes (Listen to Sermons)

Financial Transparency: No

Answered Questions: Partially

Church Bylaws: Pastor Refuses to Provide (See Red Flag Section for more Info) Affiliations: Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, CA


Red Flags of Spiritual Abuse


1. The Roys Report Exposes Rodney Finch with Multiple Incidents of Misconduct & Abuse


Several months ago, The Roys Report published an article exposing a plethora of different incidents and behaviors of abuse, financial misconduct, addiction problems, bullying, and more at Calvary Chapel Cary. You can read the article here if you haven’t already.


It’s important to note that the abuse reported by the Roys Report is both significant and undeniable. It’s often very easy for those accused of abuse to dismiss claims from a singular person without evidence, from gossip or a tabloid publisher.


The Roys Report article is written with journalistic professionalism and integrity, providing facts, sources, and proof of each and every claim being made. While abusers smear Julie Roys and her work by calling it gossip, a tabloid, or attacking her personally, these are fallacious red herrings meant to discredit Julie Roys, but the article’s facts speak for themselves.


The writer of this particular article spoke to several former members and gathered dozens if not hundreds of pages in evidence, but also heard many first-hand witnesses describe their experiences in the church, providing witness accounts of the behavior, abuse, and misconduct at CC Cary.


The abuse and misconduct of Pastor Rodney Finch (and sometimes his wife) reported in the article are as follows:


  • Child abuse (physical beatings by Rodney toward his own children)

  • Drug addiction, lying about drug addiction, refusing to submit to drug tests, quitting a church-funded rehab program early after only two weeks, and asking people in leadership positions to lie to the church about his drug addiction for him

  • Deceptive, controlling behavior

  • Nepotism

  • Financial Fraud & Other Financial Misconduct (No financial transparency)

  • Using his position as a pastor to get prescription drugs from doctors in the church, sometimes illegally

  • Refusing to provide the church bylaws

  • Slandering & smearing former members & those who speak up about the abuse and misconduct


2. The Reaction to The Roys Report By Calvary Chapel Cary


The abuse and misconduct exposed in this article are significant, but they’re far from the only issues that point to abuse at Calvary Chapel Cary. The reaction by those in the inner circle at the church exposes the abusive and toxic dynamic between leadership and everyone else as well.


Pastor Rodney Finch’s son also spoke publicly on his Facebook Page about the physical abuse he endured as a child from his father, and in response, his family attacked him personally, calling him mentally ill. Finch’s son has further spoken out about Calvary Chapel Cary on his Facebook page, calling it “toxic” and saying that it needs to close its doors.


The Roys Report also references over 50 pages of complaints against Rodney Finch by current and former church members and staff, which has also been answered with a similar tactic by current church members and leadership: personal attacks against those who have spoken up, gaslighting, and even incidents of fear-mongering and verbal abuse.


These reactions to criticism and accusations of abuse are, in and of themselves, a red flag of spiritual abuse. Legitimate complaints against the church’s treatment of people, as well as practicing inappropriate conduct, aren’t (as far as I know) being answered with apologies, remorse, facts, empathy, or truth, but ‌with open hostility, anger, more secrecy, and more abuse.


I ‌observed several former members being attacked, insulted, and verbally abused on social media by Shannel Campbell, one of Pastor Rodney’s daughters. When one former member was asked, “what abuse did you experience at the church?” by Shannel, they described the kind of behavior they observed and the abusive treatment they endured in the church in great detail. Shannel’s reaction was to mock the whistleblower and their spouse, then she DM’ed the former church member and said she prayed God would “reign fire” down on them.


See the screenshots below for the full discussion, as well as the screenshots following for further online bullying from Shannel Campbell toward anyone that criticizes or claims abusive experiences in Calvary Chapel Cary.



This is clearly verbally abusive behavior, and using God to threaten and/or punish believers is spiritual abuse. I have kept the names of the victims involved in this interaction confidential for their own privacy and safety, since it is clear that many who openly speak out against the abuse in Calvary Chapel Cary become a target for further attacks from the church. The point here is, the treatment of those who have come out and confronted the church for abuse and misconduct has been abusive itself, and only further displays what these whistleblowers are referencing, thus proving their point. 3. Financial Abuse & A Lack of Transparency A second and very common red flag amongst spiritually abusive churches is the multiple signs of financial abuse, but Pastor Rodney’s Finch’s teachings on money aren’t the only red flag pointing to financial abuse here. While they don’t pass the plate, as Finch points out frequently before sermons, he simultaneously compels and pressures financial donations in several other ways, many of which are unbiblical and spiritually abusive. In one of the church’s yearly sermons on money called “The Truth about Tithing,” Pastor Rodney admits that there is no New Testament command for Christians to tithe, but then twists the context of Matthew 23:23 in order to claim that Jesus taught that we still need to give to the church. Anyone that understands the context of Matthew 23:23 knows that Jesus was talking to Pharisees under the Law and speaking of the Mosaic temple ordinances of tithing food and animals by the people of Israel, not Christians under the New Covenant of grace and love, who give freewill donations of money out of generosity, not a commandment. While some of what Rodney says is true, he confuses it with several untrue claims made in this sermon which are then used to shame and pressure Christians into giving money to the church. Not only does he perpetuate the popular lie that Jesus spoke mostly about money, but another claim that struck me as particularly troubling was at around 1 hour and 11 minutes into the service when he brings up Matthew 6:19-21. I have added “...” to show where I chose not to include all of Pastor Rodney’s words, not to avoid context, but to include only statements I find spiritually abusive or unbiblical. They do align with the context of his teaching and I believe I’m understanding his teaching according to his intent. But to hear his statements in context, please listen to the sermon in its entirety for yourself. “Money is connected to your spiritual walk… your heart will follow your treasure… your heart always goes where you put your money… Money leads, heart follows. Money leads, heart follows. Say it with me. Money leads, heart follows. Jesus says, show me your checkbook, your Visa card, your debit card, and I will show you where your heart is. Your heart moves toward what you cherish… Christians’ hearts are not in the Kingdom… Because Jesus said, “where your heart is, where your treasure is, your heart’s gonna follow. So if you’re not giving to the Kingdom, your heart’s not there. If you’re not giving to the church, then your heart is not there… If your heart is here, your treasure will be here…” This understanding of money and the Christian walk is so false and twisted for so many reasons. It’s ultimately hypocritical, but it’s also spiritually abusive, for multiple reasons. I will try to unpack it one point at a time. First, Pastor Rodney essentially misses the entire point of Matthew 6:19-21, where Jesus is saying that the treasures of this world, including money, are unimportant. It isn’t the physical, material treasures of this world that matter, which moth and rust destroy, but our treasure in heaven, which has nothing to do with, and is not connected to our earthly “treasures” like money or personal possessions. He takes a teaching of Christ and twists it to say something along the lines of “Your material treasures in this world don’t matter, so don’t build those up, but the local church’s material treasures do matter, because we represent God and the Kingdom of God. So you need to buy us more, neglect your own materialistic desires, appease ours, and if you don’t, you don’t care about the Kingdom of God.” This is not only contradictory to Christ’s true teachings, but it’s hypocritical as well, calling the individual Christian to abandon earthly treasures while demanding they support the church to build theirs up with the Christian’s money. It makes no sense. Second, the teaching that our heart follows our money is contradictory to the Christian faith. Our heart doesn’t follow our outward works or deeds. According to the Bible, it’s the opposite. When we become Christians, we are filled with the Holy Spirit; we are a new creation, guided and convicted by Him directly, and our outward deeds and works follow our new heart. So our heart doesn’t follow our money, our money will follow our heart. And according to the Bible, our hearts shouldn’t care about building up treasures on earth, but rather, in heaven, so I would argue, Pastor Rodney, that Christians aren’t donating as much as you think they should be because their hearts ARE in the Kingdom. Because the Kingdom is literally within THEM and in HEAVEN, not in your church building. Lastly, on this point, the writers of the New Testament could not have possibly meant what Pastor Rodney is suggesting here because they didn’t have donations to support full-time ministers or the equivalence to millions of dollars in expenses. Christianity was illegal religious activity at the time, so not only did Christians not have full-time paid ministers for legal and tax reasons, they also didn’t have buildings that required their financial support. Church was done in hiding, in homes, in caves, and in the wilderness. All of their generosity and sacrifice was to help sustain ministers when possible, but also for the poor, the widows, and the orphans in the churches that struggled greatly at the time as well. Church buildings and full-time minister support weren’t even a possibility, let alone a concern of the first Christians.

4. Pastor-Led/Moses Model of Leadership The Pastor-led, or “Moses” model of leadership, is a well-known feature of Calvary Chapel churches. What this means is, rather than a group of men, elders, a board of directors, or something where there is a plurality of leadership holding the authority and power within the church, it is solely the pastor that leads the congregation. This model of leadership is a red flag of spiritual abuse for many, as it opens the door for leaders with no real accountability to do as they please. If the pastor is an abusive man, the church is inevitably abusive. If the pastor is a healthy and safe leader, the church will probably be much safer and healthier of an environment. It all depends on what kind of man is leading the church with this style of leadership. This, by itself, however, isn’t enough for me to personally find a church spiritually abusive, although it is a red flag to put you on high alert. After all, my former church is very similar to this style of leadership, wherein there is no official board of elders or directors, but since the pastor is of good character and not abusive himself, nor does he give himself power or authority over others, the church itself isn’t abusive. The only way for this leadership model to become abusive is when the pastor is an abusive individual, and unfortunately, the men that flock to these positions are often the exact type of men you don’t want in these positions. You simply have to discern for yourself whether the pastor is safe, healthy, and Christ-like in his teachings and behavior or not. Likewise, churches with plurality in leadership don’t always necessarily have real accountability in leadership either. An inncer circle made up of “yes men” and enablers or co-abusers will only make an abusive situation even worse. The only real way to prevent abuse in church leadership is to strip them of the unbiblical and fraudulent authority that they give themselves, rendering them powerless to abuse you in the first place, and use discernment when choosing your leaders. Because who you choose to follow is in fact your decision, and no one’s else. Check your church carefully and make sure your pastor isn’t a wolf. When it comes to Calvary Chapel Cary, and many other Calvary Chapels in general, I have received complaints that the pastor is the sole decision maker when it comes to hiring and firing assistant pastors and other higher positions in the church. I have also heard that this decision does not come with careful vetting, interviewing, or professional transitioning, but on a moment’s notice at the whim of the pastor alone. And even though a laundry list of complaints has been filed against Pastor Rodney Finch and serious allegations of abuse and misappropriation of funds have been made, the pastor remains the pastor, because Calvary Chapel dismissed the complaints. While some might see this as vindication for Pastor Finch, I rather see it as a red flag of spiritual abuse at the very top of the Calvary Chapel franchise/denomination of churches, where the Board of Directors leading all of Calvary Chapel are apparently okay with, or accepting of the ‌abuse exposed at CC Cary. For this reason, I see not only Calvary Chapel Cary as a spiritually abusive church, but would say that all Calvary Chapel churches are at risk of being abusive as well. 5. Secrecy Regarding the Church Bylaws Several people have attempted to get the church’s bylaws from the leadership at CC Cary. So far, they haven’t shared them with anyone, including the reporters at the Roys Report, as well as myself. In fact, even a former board member has reported never seeing the Bylaws and that current board members refuse to provide them. This is a huge red flag. The secrecy surrounding the basic facts about the church through its bylaws from the public, the congregation, even those in church leadership itself, and watchdogs/reporters attempting to hold church leaders accountable for abusive and possibly even unlawful behavior is a clear sign that something abusive and/or illegal may be going on. Otherwise, the church would be open and transparent with any information on the church. Certainly information that not only the congregation is entitled to, but the public as well. Some churches provide their bylaws on their website, while others file them with the state and we can find the bylaws in public records. Many churches will openly share their bylaws with anyone that requests them, but I have never heard of a church refusing to provide them to their own church members and board members until now. CC Cary’s unwillingness to share this information is a destructive characteristic in controlling churches where information must be withheld, hidden, manipulated, or falsely propagated, in order to control the minds of the congregation and insulate leadership from accountability. 6. A Final Call For Accountability Goes Ignored As if ‌these red flags weren’t enough, a group of former members of CC Cary made one last ditch effort to call the leadership to accountability, transparency, and responsibility for the chaos that has reigned over this church for decades, and to no avail. In an anonymous letter earlier this Spring, these former members called the church leadership to take responsibility for the many practices and incidents of abuse at the church over the years, as well as a final request for the church bylaws, which have yet to be disclosed to anyone outside of a few in church leadership. I sent this anonymous letter through Check My Church/myself to protect the identity and safety of these former members, and in the letter they also requested that the bylaws be sent to my email address. It has been two or three months since we sent the letter, and I have yet to receive any emails from the church with any information at all. At this point, Calvary Chapel Cary’s leaders have been confronted by many of its own attendees, its own family members (Pastor Rodney’s son), an article by the Roys Report, and now Check My Church. It leaves me wondering what it will take for the “overseers” of Calvary Chapel to do something about the clear and continuous abuse and misconduct at churches like Calvary Chapel Cary, where whistleblowers can be slandered and bullied online, but a clearly abusive and unstable pastor remains. These are far from being the only red flags of spiritual abuse and exploitation at Calvary Chapel Cary, as new information surfaces occasionally for this church as it does for many others. As we receive new information, I will create updates on separate posts through a new series of posts called Red Flag Alerts. So watch for them in the future to receive more updates on this church as we learn more information. Lastly, if you attend this church or are a member, please consider walking yourself through Dr. Steve Hassan’s BITE Model and Undue Influence Continuum (below) to make sure you aren’t experiencing undue influence and abuse, and please check out the many other resources we offer here to protect yourself from spiritual abuse and other forms of abuse in any context or environment.

BITE Model of Authoritarian Control Handout Oct 2 2020
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Download PDF • 124KB

Influence-Continuum-2019UPDATED-1200x1038-converted
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Download PDF • 145KB

Questionnaire I have emailed the church through their contact page, as well as a handful of their staff. Only after I reached out to Pastor Rodney directly was I responded to. A few of my questions were answered, but once I began asking about the church’s bylaws, I was not given an answer. I will continue to follow up with the church to see if I can successfully find answers to my questions. Until then, here are the answers I’ve been able to gather with and without the church’s help. 1. What is the church’s official teaching on tithes & offerings? Does the church compel giving to the church? As I pointed out in the Red Flag section, while CC Cary doesn’t preach “tithing” and admits that there is no New Testament command for Christians to tithe, they ‌compel and pressure financial giving to the church in multiple ways. Please see the Red Flag Section for more information and details on how the church treats this subject. 2. Does the church have official membership? If so, is there a membership agreement or contract? CC Cary doesn’t have official memberships, but they used to have ‌a “Credo Class” which they encouraged new people to attend in order to learn what the church “is about.” 3. Is the church financially transparent or accountable to either the local church congregation, a third party (such as an auditor), and/or the universal Church/the Body of believers? CC Cary has withheld its bylaws from all who have requested them to my knowledge, and they have yet to respond to my request for any financial information as well. Multiple people have brought complaints about how leadership staff misappropriates funds, and the church doesn’t offer any level of transparency regarding the church’s budget or how funds are distributed. Therefore, as far as I can tell, this church is not financially transparent or accountable. 4. Which denomination does the church align with, if any at all? This is a Calvary Chapel, which is part of the franchise/denomination of Calvary Chapel, founded by Chuck Smith in Costa Mesa, California. 5. Is the pastor available for questions ‌regarding the church’s doctrines, teachings, or policies? I’ve tried both emailing the church through their contact page on the website and by reaching out to Pastor Rodney himself both on Facebook and via email. While I was ignored by the church via their contact email, Pastor Rodney did respond to a few of my questions. He has been approachable personally on some topics, while not on others. While I don’t think I’ll get an answer regarding the church bylaws specifically, I ‌think this pastor is open to answering questions regarding less sensitive issues such as basic Christian doctrines or church practices. 6. Is the church tolerant and accepting of differing non-essential doctrinal positions, such as regarding eschatology, soteriology, ecclesiology, and other positions regarding things like sexuality and lifestyle choices? While Calvary Chapel churches have a somewhat universal theme of having grace and love in the face of “non-essential” differences, there have been complaints from former members of this church regarding the way people with different views on non-essential doctrines are treated. Those with opposing views on eschatology may not be comfortable or ‌free to speak their mind in this church. 7. Does the church require members to be baptized? On the church’s What We Believe page, they state: “We Believe the Lord Jesus Christ committed two ordinances to the Church: 1) Baptism and 2) the Lord’s Supper, both of which are open to all believers in Jesus Christ.” Based on this statement, ‌the church baptizes and provides the Lord’s Supper to believers, but doesn’t require it. 8. Pease describe what a typical service/meeting is like in the church. The church website doesn’t describe what a typical service is like at Calvary Chapel Cary, but it does explain on the I’m New page that the church believes in “verse-by-verse teaching from Genesis to Revelation.” So like all other Calvary Chapels, this one also has an expository style of teaching. I’ve watched a few of the church’s services on their YouTube channel, and from that online experience I can say it is similar to every other Calvary Chapel service I’ve attended in person or online, with contemporary and somewhat modest worship service (compared to megachurch rock concert worship services) and as the website describes, a verse-by-verse teaching from the Bible. With all of that said, the church will frequently veer from its expository teaching for topical sermons, series, and as mentioned before in the Red Flag section, sermons all about money. To watch a service for yourself, go to the church’s Teachings on their website or to their YouTube Channel. 9. How many people does the church have on staff, both paid and volunteer? The church’s Staff page appears only to list the paid staff and doesn’t show any volunteers. How many unpaid volunteers the church uses is unknown so far. Also, it is unknown if the staff listed on the website is even up to date or accurate to the current staff at the church, as it’s changed frequently over the past few years. 10. What is the pastor’s educational background? Pastor Rodney attended Catholic school ‌until his last two years of High School, which was in a public school. After High School, according to his biography on the church website, he joined the U.S. Navy as a hospital corpsman. This is the only educational information I’ve found online so far for Pastor Rodney Finch. 11. How does the church discipline members with sin? Is there an official sin discipline policy? While there doesn’t appear to be a written or official policy for church discipline, this doesn't mean the pastor doesn't have his own unofficial way of punishing congregants or anyone that doesn’t submit to their leadership as they see fit. See the Red Flag Section of this Check for more details on this spiritually abusive behavior within Calvary Chapel Cary.

12. How is the pastor compensated (income, bonuses, benefits, etc…) and how is that compensation established (board of elders, church vote, etc…)? As is usual for churches these days, this church doesn’t share the pastor’s salary with the public or even with the congregation. Therefore, we don’t have an answer to this question and we don’t know how the pastor’s salary is determined, either. However, we know that the average salary of a pastor in the U.S. sits around $100,000 per year. That number will go up or down depending on how many years a pastor has been preaching at their church and how large the congregation is, as well as other factors. I have spoken to Calvary Chapel pastors who couldn’t support themselves on their salary and had to get second jobs, while an anonymous whistleblower with access to the financial information at a much more popular Calvary Chapel reported that his pastor makes well over $200,000 a year. There is no way to know exactly how much a pastor makes without transparency from the church or a whistleblower’s courage. 13. What is the size of the congregation and any space or buildings that the church owns? Before the COVID pandemic, Calvary Chapel Cary had around 2,000 regular attendees. A former member attended services once the church opened up again after the lockdowns and reported that church attendance has dropped significantly over the past couple of years. Now, there may be only a few hundred regular attendees at the most. As for the building, according to the public Real Estate data for Calvary Chapel Cary, there are four separate buildings owned by the church, totalling around $8 million in assessed value and around 43,000 square feet in building space.

14. What is the pastor’s ministerial work history? Have they been the pastor or on the leadership staff at any other church? Please list their past ministry work and their reasons for leaving those churches/ministries. According to Pastor Rodney Finch’s biography on the church website, Rodney became a Christian in 1982 at a church revival after he was invited to attend by a street preacher. The biography doesn’t share the name of this preacher or which church’s revival he attended. A former member stated ‌it was a Pentecostal Church of God, according to Pastor Rodney and his family’s own account of the story years ago. After leaving active duty with the military in 1992, Rodney and his wife Elvira began serving in a few different Calvary Chapel locations in Southern California. It doesn’t list specifically which Calvary Chapel they were serving in or what their specific work included, but then his biography says after three years of serving in tere, they were “called to move to North Carolina, where we began a Bible study with 17 people, which would grow quickly to become Calvary Chapel Cary.” The lack of specifics here is another red flag. It is a common practice of pastors caught up in scandals or abuse allegations to move across the country and start a church or join a church where no one knows who they are to avoid the skeletons of their past, and the consequences that should inevitably follow. In this case, thanks to the public posts of Rodney’s son (will post screenshot soon), we discovered one of the former Calvary Chapel churches the Finches attended and worked at was Calvary Chapel Wine Country in Temecula, California. And perhaps one reason they had to leave the area was due to the child abuse allegations against them by their oldest daughter. Allegations their son is now reiterating on social media.

15. How does the church safeguard against any kind of abuse (sexual, verbal, emotional, spiritual)? Has there ever been an incident or accusation within the church involving potential abuse? If so, how was it handled or resolved? I haven’t found any policies or practices that would act as a safeguard against abuse of any kind in this church. On the contrary, the “Moses model” of church governance puts a large amount of authority and power disproportionately into the hands of the pastor alone, leaving the door wide open for abuse and little if anyone to hold him accountable at all, unless he has the humility and the willingness to submit himself to those around him. Several people have reached out to Calvary Chapel regarding the misconduct and abuse at Calvary Chapel Cary only to be dismissed and ignored. So it seems even this entire group of men in Calvary Chapel overseeing its local church pastors doesn’t bring any accountability to pastors’ misconduct and abusive behavior. And as mentioned multiple times throughout this Check, there have been many accusations and incidents involving abuse at this church. Please see the Red Flag Section to review those accusations and incidents. Lastly, it seems the way this church handles accusations and incidents, as we’ve also observed in the Red Flag Section of this Check, is to attack those who speak out about the abuse. This is an abusive reaction, adding insult to injury. This kind of response to being confronted and exposed will only further perpetuate abuse in this church and enable it to continue until either Pastor Rodney Finch or those supposedly overseeing him at Calvary Chapel decide to take responsibility and action.

 

If you're a current or former member of Calvary Chapel Cary and would like to share your experience in the church, please feel free to comment below or email us directly.